CaribWorldNews, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. June 25, 2010: The man who brought an entire nation to a standstill, generated tremendous negative publicity about his country and who stands accused of leading a notorious drug and gun smuggling gang is set to appear in a New York court today.
Christopher `Dudus` Coke, 42, is expected to be arraigned in Manhattan federal court today, according to the U.S. Justice Department. He will have to enter a plea to a 2009 indictment that charged him with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana and to illegal traffic in firearms.
Coke arrived in New York last night at a White Plains airport. He was then taken to a federal lockup in New York City. His arrival in New York came just hours after he waived his right to an extradition trial in Kingston in the interest he said of his `family and country.` He was subsequently transferred to the custody of the DEA and U.S. Marshals Service for transport to the United States.
At the hearing, which began at approximately 9:50 a.m. Thursday and lasted for about 15 minutes, Coke signed documents surrendering his right to be tried before the Jamaican Courts.
In a statement issued by his attorneys, Tom Tavares-Finson and George Soutar, he expressed his intention to waive his right to an extradition hearing in Jamaica and to proceed directly to the United States under the terms of the Extradition Laws and Treaty between Jamaica and the US.
`I have taken this decision of my own free will and have done so, even though I am of the belief that my case would have been successfully argued in the Courts of Jamaica,` the statement read. `I take this decision, for I now believe it to be in the best interest of my family, the community of West Kingston and in particular, the people of Tivoli Gardens and above all Jamaica.`
Coke also said he was deeply upset and saddened for the many Jamaicans, including members of the security forces who lost their lives, saying all this could have been avoided. He also begged Jamaicans to pray for him.
A disguised Coke was arrested by Jamaican authorities on June 22, 2010 at a traffic stop in St. Catherine, Jamaica, after a five-week pursuit by Jamaican authorities. Coke`s arrest came some four weeks after Jamaica police and troops raided his stronghold of Tivoli Gardens last month, killing 73 civilians
U.S. Attorney Bharara praised the investigative work of the DEA`s New York Field Division and Caribbean Division`s Jamaica Country Office. U.S. Attorney Bharara also thanked the U.S. Department of Justice Office of International Affairs for their significant assistance in this case, as well as the U.S. Embassy in Kingston and the Office of the Legal Adviser at the Department of State.
`As charged in the indictment pending against Coke in Manhattan federal court, drugs and guns were the bread and butter of Coke`s `Shower Posse,“ said U.S. Attorney Bharara. `We are relieved that Coke`s arrest and transfer to New York was not marked by the violence that had gripped the streets of Jamaica for so many days. We look forward to presenting our case to a jury in a Manhattan courtroom and bringing Coke to justice.`
`The arrest of Christopher Michael Coke takes one of the world`s most dangerous narcotics kingpins off the streets,` said DEA New York Special Agent-in-Charge Gilbride. `The case against Coke, built over the last three years, is a direct result of DEA New York Field Division`s collaboration with its law enforcement partners, both domestically and internationally. This partnership is a testament to our unwavering dedication to clean up our communities and track down drug traffickers, wherever they hide. This arrest and extradition to face charges are the next steps in ensuring Coke and his `Shower Posse` drug organization are brought to justice. I`d also like to commend the U.S. Attorney`s Office for the Southern District of New York, the Jamaican authorities and DEA Caribbean Division`s Kingston, Jamaica, Country Office for all their hard work on this case.`
According to the indictment filed in Manhattan federal court, since the early 1990s, Coke has led an international criminal organization known as the `Shower Posse,` with members in Jamaica, the United States and other countries.
At Coke`s direction and under his protection, members of his criminal organization allegedly sold marijuana and crack cocaine in the New York area and elsewhere, and sent the narcotics proceeds back to Coke and his co-conspirators. Coke and his co-conspirators also allegedly armed their organization with illegally trafficked firearms.
Coke has been named by the U.S. Department of Justice to the list of Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs). The CPOT list includes the world`s most dangerous narcotics kingpins.
If convicted on the narcotics charge, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $4 million or twice the pecuniary gain from the offense.
He also faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison on the firearms trafficking charge, and a fine of up to $250,000 or twice the pecuniary gain.
Meanwhile, The Assets Recovery Agency in Jamaica say they believe that properties held by, or on behalf of Coke are recoverable properties.
As a result, the ARA said it has served restraint orders on the relevant parties with a view to protecting the properties from dissipation until such time that recovery proceedings are heard in the country`s Supreme Court.